From: Rainforest Information Centre Australia & DECOIN Ecuador

Dear Friends,

We urgently need your help to protect one of the most fragile and threatened (supposedly) protected wilderness areas on Earth - the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve in Ecuador. As you will read in the letter below, mining prospectors have recently entered the reserve and if valuable minerals are found it will mean an end to the ecological integrity of the area.

The mining also impacts the neighbouring 11,000 acre Los Cedros Biological Reserve founded a decade ago by Australian volunteers from the Rainforest Information Centre (see but please don't mention this in your email or fax to protect the innocent!

Please sign this letter as an organisation or individual and send it to the World Bank and on to your own lists too. If you would like any further information about the campaign please contact:  (in English or Spanish). Please send them a copy of your fax or email. Appologies for cross postings.

for the Earth - John Seed

To the President, World Bank, James Wolfensohn
fax 202-522-3031 / 522-0355,

Executive Director World Bank, N. Hyden
fax: 202 477-2007,




It has come to our attention that a serious transgression of World Bank and international environmental protocol is currently taking place in  Ecuador with the mining survey of the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological reserve 

A World Bank financed mining project, PRODEMINCA (Proyecto de Desarrollo Minero y Control Ambiental), is carrying out prospecting activities well within the boundaries of the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological reserve in North-West Ecuador.

We are frankly shocked that the World Bank could consider financing such a project when we understand that mining activities are prohibited in protected areas in Ecuador under the current Forestry and Wildlife law and the current and proposed new mining law.

We call upon the World Bank to immediately withdraw funding from these mining activities, and to ensure that it supports no future financing of mining activities in any of the world's protected areas.

The social and ecological impacts of mining in tropical forests in developing countries are well known. The World Bank must be aware that any exploration and disclosure of mineral resources opens the way not only for industrial exploitation but uncontrolled mining by small operators. In this case, given the ecological significance of the reserve in question, it is also guaranteed infringement of World Bank promises for the care and protection of global biodiversity.  

The Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological reserve is a scant remaining intact remnant of the Western Ecuadorian Forests, an area regarded as one of the world's ten most threatened biological 'hot spots' (N. Myers, 1992, E. O. Wilson, 1995). Due to commercial logging, oil palm plantations, cattle ranching, and other economic activities, these forests have been reduced to only seven percent of their original area (A.Gentry, and C. Dodson in: Biological Extinction of Western Ecuador).

The forests where the prospecting is being carried out at present have one of the world's highest rates of endemic species. They harbor dozens of mammal and bird species severely threatened by extinction, including Spectacled Bears, Jaguars, Ocelots, Mountain Tapirs, brown headed spider Monkeys and white throated Capuchin Monkeys. Bird species include the Plate-billed mountain Toucan, Esmeraldas Woodstar, Great Green Macaw, Crested Eagle, Harpy Eagle and the Andean Condor.  

We anticipate your immediate and conclusive action by directing an immediate halt to World Bank participation in the PRODEMINCA project and safeguarding the protection of the Cotacachi Cayapas Ecological Reserve. We believe it is vital that any geological information already gathered in the area remain out of public view in order to avoid invasion by small miners.  

We would also like to encourage the World Bank's changing trend in development policies to support the multiple options for ecologically and socially benign projects. Continued support of such unsustainable activities such as mining in areas of extreme environmental importance puts this shift in severe jeopardy.

We look forward to hearing your prompt and positive response to this issue in order to remain consistent to your own policies.  

Yours sincerely,